How the right approach to video production can unleash your creativity

Recently, we worked on a project that fell right in our wheelhouse. A client reached out for help producing a video on a technical subject in a given industry. The team shared previous videos from an earlier campaign, which they admitted were rudimentary. Their goal: tell the story in a more compelling visual style that conveyed the aspirational nature of their insights.

One last thing: they needed the video in three weeks for an important conference.

We love these kinds of challenges. Before we set out to distill their research and analysis into an interesting story, we asked several questions:

What are the main messages you want your audience to take away? While we routinely ask this question of clients at the start of any project, the answer took on added importance for the video, and for a simple reason: as a medium, video has a number of advantages over words on a page. It covers a lot of ground quickly. It emphasizes connections and relationships in complex systems. And because viewers are taking it in passively (as opposed to reading an article), the images, tone, and key messages make a more lasting impression.

Any piece of content, but especially video, should inspire some kind of action or response on the part of the viewer. And when done effectively, a one- to two-minute video should be the entry point into a deeper exploration of a topic.

How will this video fit into your overall content strategy? Will it function as a teaser to spark your audience’s interest and set up an in-person conversation? Is the point to educate viewers, giving them a baseline understanding for subsequent deep dives? How will it complement the other pieces in a campaign?

Although it’s common to imagine that viewers will watch a video and be so moved that they proactively reach out to your company, the reality is that there’s a lot of noise out there. Finding ways to engage your target audience in different ways, reinforced by content through other channels, can lead to more effective videos. It also lessens the pressure when you know the video is not a stand-alone that requires no further explanation.

What production style is right for this video? This question is critical because the answer has a direct bearing on the budget and timing. If you’re seeking to do live-action video shoots, the time from inception to completion can run around six to eight weeks, and that’s on a very accelerated timeline. In contrast, videos featuring motion graphics and animation can be produced more quickly—and for a lower budget.

While the production style would ideally be dictated by the narrative, when the real world intrudes and time is of the essence, sometimes you only have one option.

For this project, we went with a motion graphics/animation video due to the compressed time frame. Upon sharing a first draft with the client, we got what was perhaps the best possible response: this video unleashed our creativity because it opened up the possibilities of how we could tell our story. After a few quick rounds of iteration, the final video was in their hands a day early and ready to share for a client meeting in advance of the conference.

While we’d love to show you this video, our NDA means we need to keep our association with the client under wraps. However, this video followed a similar trajectory and demonstrates what can be accomplished by asking the right questions at the outset.

Scott Leff

Scott is the founder of Leff. He's spent his career helping executives and subject matter experts tell their story in a compelling way. In the process, he's had the opportunity to work with C-suite executives, politicians, academics, and Olympians, not to mention dozens of talented writers, editors, and designers in the business world. Scott developed the concept of "lean content creation" as a cost-effective way to support comprehensive, integrated communication strategies.

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